Gennady Golovkin walked out of the ring on Sept. 16 to an ovation from what remained of the overflow crowd.
The middleweight champion didn’t need to hear from any judges about the result of his fight that night with Canelo Alvarez. The fan reaction told him everything.
“The fans were rooting for Canelo when he walked in and for me when I walked out,” said Golovkin, who retained his IBF, WBA and WBC belts with the split draw that most observers thought he’d won.
Golovkin remained undefeated and kept his title belts – the champion’s edge in the event of a draw – but his perfect record was gone and the perception of him harmed.
He smiled a lot after the fight, even though he was clearly unhappy. Even now, six months after the heavily hyped fight and two months before the anticipated May 5 rematch at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, he still burns when he thinks of it.
Something as insignificant as the commentary from the HBO Pay-Per-View team still rankles him.
It was a good fight, but not the epic war it had been built to be. Alvarez fought conservatively and used his legs far more in the fight than he’d ever done previously.
Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, came out swinging against Alvarez, who promised a war but then delivered a tactical fight.
“I hope Canelo went to a transmission specialist because he seemed to be stuck in reverse in the last fight,” Sanchez said.
Golovkin was the one pressuring, though it’s important to note that simply pressuring doesn’t mean one is winning. But Golovkin appeared to not only land the more powerful shots, but also was busier. He was surprised when Michael Buffer read the verdict and still is incredulous when he thinks of it.
“First, I’m a very calm and real guy and I’m always for fairness, but this fight did not have any fairness,” Golovkin said. “This type of judging is what is hurting boxing. I watched the replay twice: The first time was in the ring [live] and then I saw the replay. I was disappointed in the commentary of the fight. What I watched did not match what I heard.
“What scares me is when stats and commentary don’t match. The commentators are entitled to their opinions, and it doesn’t affect me, but it’s bad for the sport. I think I won. The stats prove it. The HBO expert [Harold Lederman] thought I won and the fans thought I won. As a human being, I have no sadness or anger about this, but as a boxer, this makes me feel sad.”
He calls the rematch the most important fight of his life, but the scoring in the first fight clearly sucked the joy out of it for him.
One of the reasons for Golovkin’s popularity, in addition to his long string of knockouts that ended with a decision win last March over Daniel Jacobs, was his congeniality and the ever-present smile that covered his face.
Feeling he was robbed of a victory, he vows a different approach this time around.
“I don’t like the business of boxing and I will no longer smile when I promote a fight,” he said. “My priority is to keep my championship belts and preserve my undefeated record. I will make it a dominant one and I will make it more obvious this time. I want a knockout, but I won’t make it necessary to get a knockout [because I’ll win so obviously].”
He called Alvarez “a first-class boxer,” and praised him as having “a high boxing IQ,” but he’s determined to deliver a beating that ends all doubt.
That means he’ll have to go to the body harder and more often than he did in the first bout.
But Golovkin insists it’s not about tactics this time around. It’s about biting down on the mouthpiece and fighting as hard as he can for as long as he can.
“The first fight was a disappointment for both of us, [because there was] not a lot of action or drama,” Golovkin said. “We studied each other too much in the early round. Canelo has good power and he has an extraordinary boxing IQ.
“I know he’s very dangerous. I want this fight. I want this victory and I want a great fight that boxing will be proud of. It will be a thrilling experience.”
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